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Courage captain criticizes team’s Diana Ordóñez trade

Diana Ordóñez requested a trade ahead of the 2023 NWSL draft. (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

Of the many trades conducted on the night of the 2023 NWSL Draft, Diana Ordóñez to the Houston Dash stands out as one of the more surprising moves.

The 21-year-old forward was sent to the Dash along with the No. 30 overall pick, while the North Carolina Courage received the No. 8 overall pick. With that pick, they chose defender Sydney Collins out of California. The Courage also received an international slot in 2023, as well as Houston’s natural first-round pick in 2024 and $100,000 in allocation money.

The trade was met with mixed reactions Thursday night, even from the Courage themselves.

“We still suck at trades in 2023,” team captain Abby Erceg wrote of the trade on Twitter, implying that the Dash got the better end of the deal.

Courage head coach Sean Nahas told reporters at the draft that Ordóñez herself and not the Courage prompted the trade, as she wanted to be closer to family.

“To be honest, it wasn’t easy, but there’s more to it than trading Diana,” Nahas told The Equalizer. “There were back-and-forth conversations and certain things she was looking for that she expressed to us. So, at the end of the day, we need to make a decision and we wanted to make sure we took care of her, as well, for the efforts and work that she put in for our club.

“She’s a family person, so I think that was a big thing for her. We thanked her for everything that she did. It’s not easy, we had a great relationship with her.”

Sam Laity, who was hired in December as head coach of the Dash, said the trade came together right before the draft began. But Ordóñez had been on his radar since he took the job.

“She was the first person, the first player that I targeted when I took the job,” Laity said. “We had initial discussions about it when I became the head coach… Ordóñez was a player we aligned with from a club perspective and a personal perspective. She has every attribute that you would need to be successful in the league.”

A Rookie of the Year candidate in 2022, Ordóñez was one of the best players on the field, scoring 11 goals to set the rookie record and starting in 17 of 19 games. Houston is coming off its first-ever playoff appearance, and the club will look to build on that in 2023.